Sunday 15 April 2012

On board, enfin

So now I'm in Arles, in Provence, and am settled into my home for the next week, the Uniworld river cruiser River Royale, in a suite with superfine sheets and Occitane toiletries and sliding doors that currently look out on a rusty bollard and a section of stone wall - but that's ok, it's a real pleasure for the moment just to be not moving. That view is guaranteed to improve tomorrow when we sail for Avignon.

Arles is a pretty place, with a Roman amphitheatre and arena and lots of narrow cobbled streets lined with three-storey terraced houses painted strong colours with contrasting shutters and lots of window boxes. It's also an untidy, littered place that could do with some maintenance - but, again, that's ok, I don't live here and can shrug all off that as what makes the town look lived-in and real. And all those peeling shutters do add to the picturesqueness, without a doubt.

The carnies are in town for the Easter fiesta and their very fancy campervans and wagons are parked beside the river (along with a row of spotted ponies), showing that clearly there's real money in candy floss these days; but we've been sternly warned over and over to be wary of the gypsies, that they're world-class pickpockets and mustn't be trusted. All very un-PC but no doubt that's experience talking. They're running a professional show on this boat: friendly and funny but very efficient; though the captain looks about 12 years old, alarmingly.

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